She Told Off the NIH!
An Animal Rights Article from


International Primate Protection League (IPPL)
October 2010

Last week our senior animal caregiver, Donetta Pacitti, told off a staff member from the National Institutes of Health. And we’re proud of her!

Donetta had enrolled in a course on the safe capture and sedation of animals, with a special session focusing on primates. We only ever capture and anesthetize our gibbons in emergencies and for necessary veterinary procedures. But primates are both strong and smart, and there are special techniques for handling them safely, for their own protection as well as that of their caregivers.

The class included about 20 staff members from the NIH, which is responsible for eight national primate research centers. These facilities house tens of thousands of primates in barren cages, breed them, and then use them for all kinds of experiments—biowarfare, brain mapping, toxicology, and so on. You can imagine the kinds of lives these poor monkeys lead.


During Donetta’s class, one of the NIH staff members actually had the nerve to make a smart remark to her about the “stress” that must be suffered by IPPL’s gibbons whenever we have to catch one in one of the aerial runways that crisscross our sanctuary.

Well, Donetta is not shy about speaking her mind. “I told him that it takes us about 30 seconds to catch a gibbon, inject him, and let him go. I said, if you want to talk about stress, let’s talk about the animals you work with: they live in cold, metal cages 24/7 with no human contact except for when you come in to dart them and experiment on them!” You tell ’em, Donetta!

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